Back to Work with Product Feeds
:: By Matt Swan ::
To make an affiliate marketing initiative profitable, advertisers need to step outside traditional formats and channels and put product feeds to work.
Feeds are simply data files (typically in an XML format and developed by an advertiser) that enable affiliate publishers to present information about an advertiser or merchant’s product inventory within their own website or application. Rather than manually entering/updating information, data feeds contain all the details publishers require to keep sites current. So, what do you, as an advertiser or publisher, need to know to get started using this powerful format?
Feed Details in Focus
Feed requirements often vary depending on the sector; and the more advertisers and affiliates who know about how they are being used, the better off they will be when their own data-feed initiatives begin.
There is a significant need for data feeds in the Internet retail space, for example, because there are often a vast number of products. Plus, the availability and pricing frequently change. Within a retail environment a product feed could contain details on the sizing and color of a piece of clothing or the specifications and universal product number of an electrical product.
The travel sector can also leverage data feeds. Since flight prices constantly change (along with availability), providing a product feed is essential to ensure the most accurate information is advertised across partner sites. With out-of-date and unreliable product information, consumers are unlikely to book at all, much less return to a website or application with outdated information – which, obviously, is detrimental to the advertiser.
As product feeds provide an opportunity for affiliate publishers to include advertiser content (via widgets or custom applications) on their own websites, they also have the ability to convince a consumer to purchase before they have ever clicked through to the advertiser’s site. This is exemplified well in the travel sector.
A consumer may visit a publisher’s site advertising holiday destinations, read reviews to compare the various travel options and formulate a decision. With the publisher providing pricing and availability from a number of advertisers, the visitor is able to make up his or her mind on the publisher’s site. When the visitor clicks through to the advertiser’s site, he or she may have a higher inclination to purchase, increasing conversion rates in the process.
Product Feeds in M-Commerce
Discover some challenges that publishers and advertisers must address to ensure product feeds contain information suited to mobile devices at wsm.co/pfmobile
Similarly, in a retail environment if a publisher has a site that is dedicated to red handbags, he or she can optimize the feeds that have been provided by advertisers to promote numerous products across a range of advertisers. The consumer makes a lot of the purchasing decision while on the site, and clicks through to the advertiser only to purchase. Any advertiser that sells red handbags but does not have a product feed is losing out on potential sales.
Product feeds are supplied by advertisers and merchants to networks that provide these in their interface for publishers to download and configure before adding to their sites. There is no standardized format but there are often compulsory fields that must be populated. As feeds are seen as a technical aspect of an affiliate program, they are often overlooked (or poorly configured) by marketing managers. It is imperative that they are optimized with publishers in mind as poor feeds will result in poor conversions.
Put Those Feeds to Work
Product feeds are one of the most neglected aspects of affiliate marketing. Make them work for your enterprise, however, and you will likely see a dramatic lift in program sales.